Duke Identifies Shortcomings In HIV Vaccine

May 8, 2013

HIV microscope image
Credit Duke University

Researchers at Duke University are using a flaw in an HIV vaccine in order to develop new formulas to fight off the virus. 

A study released Monday says certain antibodies in the vaccine can inhibit natural responses in the immune system.  That's despite the vaccine being effective for about 30 percent of people who received it during a trial in Thailand.

"These particular antibodies are acting as a bodyguard for the virus and they're getting in the way and guarding the virus from an immune response that could destroy it," says Dr. Georgia Tomaras, co-author of the latest research.

"So we're trying to focus on ways to understand how this is working and how this vaccine is illiciting these responses so we can circumvent that in the next vaccine strategy."

Tomaras says results are mixed because reactions to HIV vary in each person who gets infected.  Doctors are using the newest revelations to develop a new vaccine for future trials.